Why I hate consignment


every summer I do consignment with boutique located in lovely summer
areas. Over the last month I have been getting back items that did
not sell over the summer months.

I am not upset that some items did not sell- I am just bummed about
the lack of care some galleries have for work when they ship back. I
just received a package from a gallery that wrapped my pieces in
tissue paper and then threw them in a lightly padded envelope. On
the UPS truck a few extremely heavy boxes must have been sitting on
my package because my work came back bent and one piece was almost
split in half. This is the third package I have gotten back from a
gallery shipped back this way! Usually just ear posts get bent or
broken off but this time my jewelry came back as garbage. I ship
items out in boxes I don’t understand why most of the consignment
places I deal with don’t ship back in boxes. UPS, USPS and Fed Ex
supply this stuff for free so I don’t get it.

Oh well another business loss!
thanks for letting me rant!

Don’t you have some recourse? Don’t your consignees agree to return
your things in good order?

Hey Dede!!

Nice to email with you again! I know you want to just rant, so by all
means, I hear ya! I think that you should probably put it in your
consignment contract that returned work must be wrapped in bubble
wrap and secured with peanuts or something in a box for redelivery.
Or what about having sturdy packaging with your jewelry so it won’t
get crunched?

Although I send my work in sturdy packaging, and I had a gallery send
work back to me in their own flimsy boxes, AND KEPT MY CASES…so I
think sometimes people are just on their own planet.

I think it totally sucks that they don’t take care of your work in
any event.

However, we really need to put EVERYTHING in writing, I guess.

Chat soon,
Kim Fraczek


Hello DeDe,

Oh well another business loss! 

I can’t think of what you might do now that doesn’t involve lying,
threatening and losing customers. For the future you can advise your
consignees that any unreturned boxes will be invoiced at $XX.xx per
box. I would also advise them that any returned merchandise that is
damaged in transit will be invoiced at full retail if the original
box isn’t used.

I would recommend that you do not use a round number, something like
$37.65 or $49.32 so that if someone asks ‘why so much’ you can say
that you were told that is the cost of the shipping rider on your
insurance which is void without your boxes. A strong box with a
printed meaningless serial number would be a nice touch.

Of course there is no need to mention that you don’t actually have
an insurance rider or that the person that told you the cost was not
an insurance broker but merely an annoying stone cutter in another
country that gets upset when he hears of artists getting ripped off.
The good guys with a respectful, responsible and businesslike
attitude will not object as it will not cost them or cause them a
need to change anything. The ones that do object are the ones that
will return your stuff in an envelope.


Hey Kim! You work is glass so I would hope a retailer would have the
good mind to box it first!! But hey you never know! I guess my point
is - it seems if a retailer does not pay for inventory- they don’t
really feel responsible for items. Thats what really stinks about
consignment… take care dd

Hello Kevin:

Don't you have some recourse?  Don't your consignees agree to
return your things in good order? 

I did notify the gallery when my items returned damaged and have not
heard back yet. If the items were not shipped insured I hope to at
least paid my costs for the items if not my wholesale price. This
gallery has been good to me over the years and have sold many of my
pieces and I am thankful it was my silver work that was damaged and
it was not gold work.


Why I hate consignment Hi there DeDe I got the same pitifully
wrapped parcel the same day you did— in a soft sided bag… also
via UPS probably from the same gallery… I was also very upset…
Thats why I did not reply at once… I was so pissed off I thought I
had better wait a day before saying anything just to let my self cool
off a tad… The goods were insured by UPS which does provide free
boxes on request… but I don’t think the insurance would even
cover the items in this instance because they were so poorly
wrapped… It would again fall back on the gallery owner to make
good the insurance claim. I just decided to vent here — thanks
for listening— and replace the odd ear post and damaged
item…What I would like to ask the group---- Is this common or are
DeDe and I just unlucky this one time? Thanks as always…
Mark Kaplan

t seems if a retailer does not pay for inventory- they don't really
feel responsible for items. Thats what really stinks  about

Ouch . . as a retailer I resent the statement that says “they don’t
feel responsible for items” that’s not true in my case . . As an
artist: I wouldn’t want my stuff to fall apart, but sometimes it

(I missed the initial post, but will be looking for it NOW!)

From both sides: I have dealt with work, of others, and my own,
that looks like it’s been perfectly made, and all of a sudden it
falls apart - doesn’t appear to be shoddy workmanship . . . In some
cases, customers break things but maybe I just didn’t see them doing
it, so, am I responsible? Yes, in my case. I try to take care of
the broken things, eat the profits, so to speak. The work in my
gallery is 100% consignment. My artists get paid by the 15th of
every month when there is a sale. Why? Because, I too am on
consignment in my own gallery! I have always consigned, and
although I’ve found some to be slow paying, most have paid up when
I’ve showed up. I do not send my work, I hand deliver it
(obviously, I can only do that with surrounding areas - not cross
country…) That’s ok, It’s easier for me to keep track of my stuff
that way. I just don’t like the fact that some galleries (not mine)
don’t keep things dust free and untarnished.

As a former gallery owner I have to say I ALWAYS saved the packaging
if it was special, always VERY carefully packed anything I was
returning (rarely returned jewelry I have to say - that usually sold
quite well!), and always insured anything with a value of over $100.
The cost to insure is relatively minimal. I only had 2 damage claims
of any sort the whole time I ran my gallery. Once a very large and
expensive painting inexplicably fell during the night, resulting in
its complete demise. My gallery insurance paid everything but the
deductible, and the artist and I agreed to split that. Then the
artist got the rest of the payment. So I absorbed part of the loss,
the artist absorbed part of the loss, but the artist also got more
payment for the piece than she would have on straight consignment,
so she felt “ahead of the game” so to speak. The other time I ran
into damage I was doing a show of a potter’s work. It arrived very
carefully packaged, with a large hole through one package - and,
needless to say, a broken pot inside! UPS and I went round and round
on that one - it was perfectly obvious that at some point a fork lift
prong had “attacked” the box. They tried to say it was improperly
packaged, but I wouldn’t let them get away with that lie! I don’t
care how well you package something, if a fork lift attacks it is
dead meat! They finally did pay the artist for the pot - looked to
have been beautiful from the pieces - I wish it had not arrived

On the other hand I am, and was at the time, a practicing artist, so
I may approach the gallery/artist relationship a bit differently!

Best wishes to all.

Beth in SC where it was warm enough to swim last night, and has now
finally turned into fall weather

I have work in a nyc showroom. I sent neiman marcus 25 wood pieces
of jewelry, mostly cuff bracelets that are sprayed lightly with a 2
part urethane that is very durable, but not totally impervious to
scratches. I placed each in a high quality ziplock along with the
form required by them for each one. TLC out the kazoo, by the way.
These were supposed to be used for photo shoots at the NM stylists
liberty. By chance I got to the showroom one day as they were
returned, all 25 pieces in 1 bag, dumped in 1 bag!!! dp

Hi Mark,

 Is this common or are DeDe and I just unlucky this one time? 

I do a lot of consignment and it’s not common in my experience, but
it does happen. While I have never received returned work in soft
packaging, I have received work that was obviously damaged, probably
from being dropped on a hard floor. And I have too frequently had
work returned that was noticeably dirty (how do they expect to sell
it if it doesn’t look its best?!), but at least that can be easily

I think both you and DeDe need to at the very least express your
displeasure to the gallery owner – not in anger but very firmly.
And the very least you should expect in return is an abject apology
and a promise that it will never happen again. Whether or not you
decide to insist on monetary compensation (if it is not offered and I
would be pleasantly surprised if it were) will have to depend on your
relationship with the gallery and how important their business is to

I also think that, for the sake of others of us who do consignment,
you should post the name of the gallery!

Good luck. Beth

Hey dp! Yeah stylists and magazine are really bad at shipping things
back nicely. I have gotten items back from shoots literally thrown in
plastic shopping bags (and we are talking like 25 pieces - mixed
necklaces, earrings…) I make a point of telling stylist to please
return in the boxes they came in and it NEVER happens… I keep
telling myself- its the cost of doing business but I still get
really mad!!


Would it be feasible and less expensive in the long run to actually
send a proper box with instructions for packing and ask them to use
it to send the pieces back. It would cost you to ship the box both
ways, I guess, but it would probably not cost as much as losing even
one piece?

J. S. Ellington